Documents RSS 2.0

Ashley Roberts
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
PHONE: 727-767-2846

Martha Johnson
Canine Companions for Independence
PHONE: 407-721-4767


Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Welcomes New Facility Dog


St. Petersburg, Fla. – March 24, 2021 – Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital welcomed its newest employee, a furry, four-legged friend named Brea. The 2-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever will serve as the hospital’s first facility dog. Brea, trained by Canine Companions for Independence, will assist child life specialist, Leah Frohnerath. Brea will focus on motivating and inspiring patients and staff as well as helping hospitalized children and those with special needs through their medical journey.

Facility dogs undergo a two-year extensive and specialized training where they learn more than 40 commands that allow them to interact with and calm patients and staff appropriately. They can also pull toy wagons, push drawers and retrieve items. Facility dogs differ from therapy dogs or service animals in that they are trained beyond the role of a comfort animal, and handlers must complete a two-week, full-time training course. Facility dogs also must receive special certification through a national standardized practical test and return for follow-up assessments on a periodic basis.

“Growing up with a disability, I spent a lot of time doing therapies and visiting doctors,” said Frohnerath. “My parents introduced me to the concept of animal assisted therapy at six years old through a horseback riding program and I benefitted greatly from the therapy and positive influence of the horses. Since then I have made every effort in my life and career to facilitate these magic moments and incognito therapeutic interventions between human and animal, and particularly dogs through my work facilitating Pet Therapy here at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.”

She adds, “I am extremely excited for Brea to be a part of our team. Although we have only been working together for just over a month, I am already stunned by Brea’s ability to make connections with patients. She has made painful procedures tolerable, even enjoyable for our patients, and helped staff bolster their energy to do the amazing work that they do.”  

For nearly 44 years, Canine Companions for Independence has been enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 6,700 assistance dogs with program graduates, including more than 350 dogs with military veterans and more than 2,000 dogs with children. The estimated cost of a highly trained Canine Companions facility dog like Brea, and all follow up support, is $50,000, however each facility dog is provided at no cost. Canine Companions depends on the support of tens of thousands of donors and volunteers to match our facility with an assistance dog like Brea entirely free of charge.

Brea and her handler’s services are funded through Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation gifts from the Zimmerman Family Foundation as well as the 2020 Pup Cup 5k, a virtual run and community fundraiser supporting facility dogs.


About Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg is a leader in children’s health care, combining a legacy of compassionate care focused solely on children since 1926 with the innovation and experience of one of the world’s leading health care systems. The 259-bed teaching hospital, stands at the forefront of discovery, leading innovative research to cure and prevent childhood diseases while training the next generation of pediatric experts. With a network of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care centers and collaborative care provided by All Children’s Specialty Physicians at regional hospitals, Johns Hopkins All Children’s brings care closer to home. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital consistently keeps the patient and family at the center of care while continuing to expand its mission in treatment, research, education and advocacy. For more information, visit

About Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Independence provides highly-trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities. Established in 1975, Canine Companions has six regional training centers across the country. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. For more information, visit or call 1-800-572-BARK.